“Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible” (Mt 19:25-26).
The disciples are “greatly astonished” about Jesus’ comments about how difficult it would be for the rich to enter heaven. Their astonishment came from the belief system that those who had wealth did so because they had been blessed by God for following his commandments. Just remember the rich young man’s attitude from yesterday. He had followed God’s commands and was blessed with riches, but Jesus turned his world upside down when he asked the man to give up all he had to follow him.
Jesus attempted to help the man and his disciples to understand that what we have, all that we have, is a gift from God, starting with our very existence. He is the ground, the source, and sustenance of our life as well as our ultimate fulfillment. A problem arises when we place our security in material things instead of God who provides them for us. If our security is dependent on that which is finite, we are always going to be left unfulfilled, attached, and/or at worst addicted, and so like the rich man, unwilling to give of ourselves to those in need, because we are afraid, we won’t have enough. Also, when we look to our own effort and work ethic, we can build a reliance on our self alone. We can place ourselves as the supplier of our security instead of God. Pride then becomes a dangerous idol. We think and start to believe that we don’t need God because we can do well enough on our own thank you very much.
“Who then can be saved?” The disciple’s question can then very easily be our own. If we can’t buy, earn, or achieve our way into heaven, how will we get there? Jesus is clear. For men, this is impossible because there is no means for us to get there on our own merit. But for God, all things are possible because our salvation is a gift freely given by him.
As with any gift though, we need to be willing to receive it and accept it. One way is to be grateful for what we have and recognize that the source of this gift is God. In this way, we can share freely from what we have, because God, who is our source, is unlimited. As we give from what God has given, God will continue to supply. What is primary then is deepening our relationship with him and collaborating with him. As we do so, we will have the proper orientation to encounter one another in love.
What is essential in our life is not what we have, but that we recognize that God is the source of what we have, that he will provide for us and be present with us. Time goes fast. This life that we have been given is good, but it is also finite, and fragile. Let us not take each other for granted, let us take the time to love God and each other as he loves us. “Let us encourage one another while it is still today” (Hebrews 3:13).
Photo: I am thankful for the walks JoAnn and I used to take together, and look forward to evening walks again soon to see friends such as this red shouldered hawk drying out after a rain. What are you thankful to God for?